A UK Government minister has pledged to accelerate the second phase of the country’s carbon capture and storage (CCS) rollout.

Climate Minister Graham Stuart has confirmed plans to speed up track 2 of the cluster sequencing process.

The Press and Journal says it is good news for Aberdeenshire’s Acorn CCS project, which is widely expected to be one of the projects selected as part of the next cohort.

During a Commons debate on Tuesday, Sir Desmond Angus Swayne, Conservative Member of Parliament for the New Forest West, asked: “Will he (Mr Stuart) expedite the track 2 process for carbon capture and storage.”

In reply, Mr Stuart simply said: “Yes”.

There has been frustration about the government’s delay in publishing a timeline for the launch of track 2.

Track 1 clusters

Around a year has now passed since the track 1 clusters – HyNet and the East Coast Cluster – were announced.

The aim is for the two schemes, located in the north of England, will be safely storing carbon from nearby emitters by the middle of the decade.

To the surprise and anger of many, particularly in the north-east, the Scottish Cluster, which includes Acorn, didn’t make the cut and was instead picked as the reserve cluster.

There are concerns this will delay the start-up of Acorn, based at the St Fergus gas plant, thereby hampering investment and job creation in the north-east.

Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn has led calls for the Scottish Custer to be awarded funding and has written to the UK Government demanding key dates for the process are now unveiled.

He told the P&J: “This is undoubtedly very welcome news, but I am wary that we’ve had warm words before only to be let down.

Timeline needed

“What we now need is for the UK Government to set out a timeline with key dates for the track 2 process, including when successful bids will be announced.”

A report in the summer said urgent action is needed for Britain to become a leader in CCS.

It has been estimated that the sector could be worth £100billion to the country’s manufacturers between now and the middle of the century, with Aberdeen named among locations which could benefit from the new technology.

The study was produced by industry body Offshore Energies UK for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.